My Strategy for When the Pain Is Unbearable


My eyes fluttered open. It had been a long night in the intensive care unit after my heart surgery, but now the color beyond the windows was the saturated blue of dawn. My eyes drifted towards the clock on the wall — 7 a.m., it said.

“Oh my,” I thought. “How am I going to deal with the pain? It will get better with time, but how do I even get to 7 p.m.?”

On a regular day of lupus, especially during periods of high disease activity, I often collapse in despair because I don’t know how I can possibly deal with one more day of pain. And that is OK — it is OK to break down because I am exhausted, in pain and hopeless.

What I have learned is that it is pointless to reason with yourself when you are filled with pain. You have to simply get through it. You may not understand why or what for in such a moment, but you will when you get a good day.

That good day might not be now, and it might not come for awhile, but I believe what you have to do is just get through the day without overanalyzing it, and treat yourself with kindness. Give yourself a break — your body isn’t what it was yesterday, and isn’t what it will be tomorrow.

What I have found useful, especially when the pain is so unbearable that even a day is too long, is to break it down further into seconds.

That breaks the problem down into bite-sized, digestible pieces. I don’t have to fight for a “long period of time.” All I have to do is to choose to continue fighting in this very moment, this very second, now — and I know I can do it, and so can you.

Editor’s note: This is based on one person’s experiences and should not be taken as medical advice. Consult a doctor or medical professional for any questions or concerns you have.

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